Township, store celebrate Bike Month

The Bike Rack on Route 33 is hosting an antique bike show and the township is sponsoring a bicycle safety program.

By: Chris Karmiol
   Perhaps Leonardo da Vinci invented the bicycle in unrealized notebook sketches in the 1490s, or maybe the Michauxs, French carriage makers, developed the vehicle, then known as a velocipede, in the 1860s.
   In 1866 Pierre Lallement got the first U.S. bicycle patent, thus beginning this country’s love affair with bicycles, from the classic, banana seat Schwinn Stingrays and Krates of the ’60s and ’70s, to the BMX boom of the ’80s, to the mountain-conquering, knobby-wheeled machines of the ’90s and today.
   Bicycles have always represented freedom and fun, hence the popularity of the vehicles. These days, with air pollution and traffic woes increasing at warp speed, bicycles may not only represent a good time, but a wise choice. Commuting by bike causes no negative environmental impact, saves gas and money and increases health and strength.
   May is National Bike Month, and today, Friday, is Bike to Work Day in many places. Riding bicycles is also one of the last connections to childhood many adults retain, outside of the occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
   On Sunday, the Bike Rack, on Route 33 in East Windsor will host its 11th annual Classic Bicycle Swap Meet for antique and collectible bikes.
   "I would say there’s gonna be over 1,000 bikes," said Van Delfino, owner of the Bike Rack. "It’s a flea market setup where people sell, buy and show off their restored antique bikes."
   Mr. Delfino said that bike collectors and the curious-minded come from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia and even Ohio to see the classic wheels.
   "This is to celebrate the history of bikes," Mr. Delfino said.
   Schwinns and Raleighs often dominate the show, he said, but sometimes even high-wheelers from the 1800s, worth thousands, make an appearance. While thousands of dollars is more than some pay for their cars, bikes which can be found for less than $50 to start — used — are in high demand these days.
   "We’ve been rocking and rolling," Mr. Delfino said. "Kids are always gonna be involved in bikes. A lot of families are getting into riding."
   The increase in local riders is largely due to the influx of families to East Windsor in recent years.
   "(They’re) moving into the area, coming from places where they couldn’t ride before," Mr. Delfino explained.
   The township, it seems, is responding to the call for bike access with the development of bikeways through Etra Lake Park and pending bike paths on Route 539. The Bear Brook Pathway is also in the works.
   After proclaiming May as Bike Month in East Windsor, Mayor Janice Mironov unleashed a township bike safety plan: "Bike at Night — Use a Light."
   The program, which begins Monday, seeks to educate residents on bike safety rules to prevent nighttime accidents.
   "There’s clearly been a growing number of people bicycling at night and not using proper lighting," the mayor said. "They’re creating a danger to themselves and motorists on the road who do not see them."
   The mayor said this was a sufficient concern to the township and so it decided to take a proactive approach with an outreach program. The education program will be coordinated with the Police Department.
   At police headquarters on One Mile Road, literature on bicycling safety will be available as well as free red blinking lights for the back of bicycles. These lights will be available to the first 50 residents who pick up literature at the station. State law requires that a front head lamp and a rear red light or reflector be used when riding in darkness.
   During the month, if pulled over for equipment violations at night, police will give riders a warning as well as a free red light. After a month of educating the public, the mayor said, police will enforce applicable laws regarding nighttime riding. The fine for improper lighting on bicycles is $44.
   The bike safety program will begin at 11 a.m. Monday. It will continue Monday through Friday form 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the station for one month.